Can someone explain to me how watching The Tube has become less enjoyable than it was when we had a choice of only three national and one or two local channels? Never did I think I’d be paying the exorbitant monthly rates I do only to be offered non-stop garbage such as infomercials, so-called reality shows and inane movies in which acting and dialogue are supplanted by special effects and gratuitous and cartoonish violence. But by far, the most insulting and offensive fare I am exposed to is the 24 hour “Breaking News” cycle.
As Don Henley eluded to in his 1982 hit, “Dirty Laundry,” the talking heads and the bubble-headed bleach blondes will breathlessly deliver the day’s bad news with a gleam in their eyes. Unfortunately, the media has only gotten worse since 1982. Now everything from a heavy rainstorm to an unusually hot day is a “News ALERT!” But it’s not just their hyperbolic alarmist reports that are aimed solely at capturing viewership (read: revenue), but their bias is over the top and shameless.
The media no longer simply reports the news-worthy events of the day; the media now creates the news. A rabble of discontents, numbering less than a dozen, gather at a memorial they disfavor and the reporters “on the ground” paint the scene as if it’s the beginning of a new revolution that will transform America as we know it.
The media also alters our language in order to mold their story’s perspective into main stream thought. To paraphrase George Orwell’s warning, creating the language and mandating how it’s used controls the minds of the listener. It was the media that decided to call the riots of 2020 “mostly peaceful.” That’s a fine descriptor unless you happened to be the hapless bystander who got hit over the head with a 2×4, or the small bodega owner whose shop was burned to the ground. They might look at the riots as mostly, if not only, violent.
Which brings me to the pending 2024 elections. During the New Hampshire Primary, I watched as Fox called it for Trump. They didn’t high five each other, but they might as well have, what with the aforementioned gleam in all of their eyes. Then I changed it to CNN. They didn’t call it for Trump for at least another 30 minutes — and grudgingly at that.
A few days later I was at my favorite watering hole (shocking, I know), when a customer commandeered the remote and changed the channel from the local news to Fox. A perfectly coiffed, handsome young talking head was blathering on about Trump and all of his magnificence. At the end of the bar, another patron loudly complained to change the channel. Someone grabbed the remote and put on CNN. A serious looking, bespectacled female was positing on Trump’s legal woes and bloviating about the fantastic benefits of Bidenomics. It didn’t take long for a third disgruntled customer to demand a channel change.
The bartender, already harried serving drinks, making change, handling cash, cutting limes and everything else that goes into bartending now had to play Mom. She swiped the remote, and hid it behind the cash register. But not before changing the channel to Jeopardy. And finally there was joy in the bar, even sans Alec Trebek.